On Wednesday, February 19th, 2020, a Moyale Raha bus heading to Nairobi from Mandera was attacked by suspected Al-Shabaab militants. At least three passengers were killed in the attack, which took place in the Sarman area in Mandera North County. The bus was sprayed with bullets on its way to Nairobi. According to the company who owned the raided bus, the gunmen shot at the tires and the driver sped off to try to find safety, only to get shot by more gunfire ahead. Ten gunmen started spraying the bus with bullets and later shot the driver in the hand making it difficult for him to drive.
A survivor by the name Mohamed recounts how the gunmen jumped from the bush and sprayed the bus with bullets. Passengers alighted and fled off to the bushes and into the manyattas where they were helped by locals. The bus was transporting more than 60 passengers to Nairobi. “We have launched investigations to know who exactly the perpetrators are in this incident,” said Mandera County Commissioner Onesmus Kyatha. Mr Kyatha further said that the local community could be harboring armed criminals who are reigning terror in the region. He further reiterated that they were in full control and very much on the ground; this incident shouldn’t be taken to mean that armed criminals suspected to be Al-Shabaab militants are taking charge of Mandera North Sub-County.
This is the second attack this year in Mandera County with the first happening in January, where suspected militants tried to raid Olla Police Post in Mandera North but were fought back by the police. As per an article published on Citizen Digital, in January 2020, three Americans were killed by Al-Shabaab during an attack on a military base in Mandu Lamu. In the same month, four school-going children were killed in a gunfight between police and Al-Shabaab militants who attacked a telecommunications mast. On January 13, suspected Al-Shabaab militants shot dead three teachers and burned down a police station.
“I am shocked with what is happening on the road that I thought was safer for the travelers. Our government has to do all it can to ensure this road is safe,” said Elizabeth Wangui, a businesswoman from Mandera. Elizabeth is referring to The Mandera-Rhamu-Banisa-Takaba-Moyaleroute that has been the road of choice for people travelling in and out of Mandera but was taken over by the militants.
Mandera Governor Ali Roba said that thousands of school-going children have suffered mass failures due to lack of teachers and that the county has recorded negative private sector investment to generate employment opportunities for the youth in the region. Leaders from the 12 counties in the North-eastern region of Kenya met to kick start a process of formulating their own legal framework policy that will precipitate efforts of countering terror attacks. We at the OWP hope that a lasting solution is found to prevent further militant attacks from happening, which may not only eat into a country’s economy but also deter children from ever realizing a better future for themselves.
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